In this very special event, the Hawk’s Well celebrated Brian and joined with many of his friends and peers to highlight his enormous cultural contribution to date
This wonderful evening featured performances from guests including Carrie Crowley, Gregory Daly, John Carty, Carlo Gébler, Dave Knight, Colin Beggan, Sven Paetz, John McDwyer, Nichola MacEvilly, Mary Branley, Cillian Rodgers, Gerry Farrell, John Caheny and Johnny Gogan.
Brian Leyden is a writer and documentary maker living in north Sligo. He grew up in the coal mining valley of Arigna in Co. Roscommon, a place and a way of life memorialised in his writing. Brian started his career by studying Fine Art in what was then known as the Regional College Sligo, where he graduated and spent some time teaching art around the Northwest. He submitted a short story about miners in Arigna, his hometown, which won the Francis MacManus RTE Radio 1 award in 1988. Brian modestly comments "I was always a big reader and I guess by winning that, it took me into the world of writing and it has been that way ever since."
His work has crossed many platforms from the world of publications, to radio and film and he has received many awards for his outstanding work throughout his career. Brian is the author of the best-selling memoir about life in Ireland west of the Shannon, The Home Place. His other books include Departures, a collection of short stories; and the novel, Death and Plenty. He scripted the RTE documentary, No Meadows in Manhattan, which won a Jacobs’ Award. He has written extensively about his native area for RTE Radio 1’s Sunday Miscellany, and in the radio documentaries Even the Walls Were Sweatin’ and The Closing of the Gaiety Cinema in Carrick-on-Shannon. He has been Writer in Residence in both Leitrim (2000) and Sligo Libraries (2010). His most recent film work is a screenplay, co-written with Director Johnny Gogan. The feature film Black Ice premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013, before going on release in cinemas throughout Ireland. There are plans afoot to make a T.V. adaptation of Black Ice. Brian is also involved with 2015 Bealtaine & Tread Softly Festivals and participating in events to mark the 25th Anniversary of the closure of the Arigna mines.
In an exceptionally packed programme on the night Brian Leyden read from both his early and recent works, and there were film and radio clips, special guests from the world of books, radio, film, music and drama. On My Station also included the launch of "Sweet Old World - New & Selected Stories” by Brian Leyden. This is a reissue of his first book Departures but with new stories added. It’s the best of his early work along with new works published in anthologies and broadcast on Sunday Miscellany over the years. The opening part of the evening was based on Brian’s sell-out show in The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon in March. He read the Francis McManus Short Story winning work, ‘The Last Mining Village', which started him off back in 1988. Photographer David Knight's images were featured to mark the 25th anniversary of the closing of the Arigna Mines along with music from Colin Began and Sven Paetz. As this was also the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.B. Yeats, two very fine Sligo based actors John Carty and Nichola MacEvilly performed an excerpt from Brian’s two-hander play WB Yeats: ‘Experiments in Magic’.
Other special guests on the night were renowned writer Carlo Gebler and actor Carrie Crowley. The second part of the night was about collaborations with evocative excerpts from Brian’s radio documentaries and a chat with the film maker Johnny Gogan about their work on the feature film Black Ice. John McDwyer of Beezneez Theatre Company was joined by stage stalwarts Jerry Farrell and John Caheny to perform an extract from the award winning Ink & Lunacy. The special guest musician was the incomparable Gregory Daly from Gurteen, and Brian was delighted to welcome on stage Sligo poet and musician, Mary Branley.
To round out the stories, the drama, the music and to bring it all back home, the Hawk's well lobby was taken over by special guest musicians from Ellen’s Pub session in Maugherow.